Last year, a Yale student couple broke up during Spring Break. A few days later, the girl texted her former boyfriend, informing him she was drunk, inviting him to her room, and telling him: â€œDonâ€™t let me try to seduce you though, because that is a distinct possibility.â€
Sex ensued (of course). And, over a year later, upon returning to Yale after taking a year off, the young lady filed a complaint with the University accusing her former boyfriend of rape. He had taken advantage, she said, of her being drunk, and seeing him around campus made her “want to cry or vomit.”
Representatives of all sorts of new University bureaucracies, the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC), the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center (SHARE), the Title IX coordinator, sprang into action and worked on the matter for months.
After initiating formal procedures and supplying the complainant with her former boyfriend’s class schedule (so that she could avoid seeing him and therefore crying or throwing up), an independent fact-finder was hired. The two parties were interviewed four times along with some witnesses to the young lady’s drinking on the night in question. Statements were exchanged. All the majesty of Yale marched up to the top of the hill and then down again, and a 3-and-1/2 hour hearing was finally conducted, with all the technical facilities and formality of a Nuremburg war crimes trial.
As the result of the hearing, a faculty panel voted and wrote a report, concluding (reasonably enough) that “the preponderance of the evidence” proved that the male student had not violated university policy by taking advantage of the young lady while she was incapacitated. They then formally advised the two young people to avoid one another.
Original Yale Daily News story of November 7.
Ruth Marcus, at the Washington Post, thought that this incident should alarm everyone.
This seems the just outcome, but one that, given the low â€œpreponderance of evidenceâ€ standard of proof and Yaleâ€™s stringent consent rules, could have gone the other way.
And at what a traumatic cost. To a young woman who sincerely believes she has been raped but seems, at least from afar, to have been pushed by the prevailing culture into viewing a bad choice as a quasi-criminal event. To a young man who lived under the shadow of accusation and expulsion.
This is a cautionary tale about a still-evolving, still-uneasy balance in dealing with sexual assault on campus. The Yale episode demonstrates: Parents of boys should be every bit as nervous as parents of girls about what can happen to the not-quite-adults they send off to college.
Hat tip to Maggie Gallagher.